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Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth

Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth


Accompanying the exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, this catalogue explores one of the most important artists of the Renaissance. Fra Angelico (about 1395–1455) transformed Western art with pioneering images, rethinking popular compositions and investing traditional Christian subjects with new meaning. His altarpieces and frescoes set new standards for quality and ingenuity, securing his place in history. With the intellect of a Dominican theologian, the technical facility of Florence’s finest craftsmen and the business acumen of its shrewdest merchants, he forged the future of painting in Italy and beyond.


The exhibition reunites for the first time Fra Angelico’s four reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella (1424-34; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Museo di San Marco, Florence). Together they cover key episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary and capture in miniature some of his most important compositional innovations. Assembled at the Gardner with exceptional examples of Angelico’s narrative paintings from collections in Europe and the United States, Heaven on Earth explores his celebrated talents as a storyteller and the artistic contributions that shaped a new ideal of painting in Florence.

  • Nathaniel Silver

    FEBRUARY 2018

    ISBN 978 1 911300 39 7

    Hardback, 280 x 240 mm

    250 pages, 125 colour ills.

  • Exhibition

    Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

    22 February – 20 May 2018

  • In the press

    "Dream of a show … illuminates an overlooked aspect of an artist we may think we know well: his skill, not just as gentle icon-maker but as a dramatist, a spinner of sharply observed narratives." –New York Times


    "A scholarly but accessible and thought-provoking exercise ... a taut and concentrated study of the painter, focusing on the reliquaries, but also

    examining broader issues concerning the artist and Dominican patronage. It is full of significant, and often new, information, including important technical analysis." –Apollo Magazine 


    "Illuminating essays ... gorgeous reproductions ... a wonderful book for Italian Renaissance art enthusiasts." –Publishers Weekly


    "A small gem" —Wall Street Journal 


    "Superb catalogue ... Not only is Fra Angelico shown to be one of the greatest of masters, as one would expect, but also an inspired experimenter, unpredictable, gifted with a broad feel for subject and form, and consummately charming at every turn." —New Criterion


    "A dazzling presentation [and] a rare glimpse into the museum's contribution to conservation and restoration ... academics will welcome historical perspectives on liturgical objects while attendees will recall the radiant reproductions of bright gold divine accents of saintly narratives ... [a] handsome catalog." —Library Journal 


    "In the past thirteen years at least seven exhibitions on Fra Angelico have been mounted in cities in Europe and America. None, in this reviewer’s opinion, has been as beautiful, as moving, as informative and as thoughtfully organised as Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth." –Burlington Magazine 


    “A small but important exhibition … beautifully produced book” –Art Newspaper 


    "Beautifully produced, with colour illustrations and fine details presented throughout." —Renaissance Quarterly


    "There are many reasons to be dazzled by [Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth], among them the painter’s jaw-dropping, luxuriant color, his innovative compositions, and his wondrous precision." —Boston Globe 


    “Invites you to explore Fra Angelico's ground-breaking narrative art, marvel at his peerless creativity, and immerse yourself in the material splendor of his craftsmanship.” — 

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